Practice Yoga To Attain Better Mental Health

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Reminder: You’re Invited to UB’s Yoga Intro Workshop This Saturday 4/25
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It is well-known that yoga is beneficial for your physical health, but how can it benefit your mental health? Urban Balance therapist and Certified Yoga Teacher, Alyssa Yeo, has answered questions about yoga to highlight both the short-term and long-term benefits of yoga that can significantly improve your quality of life.

How can yoga help improve a person’s mental health in day-to-day tasks?

Yoga provides individuals with the opportunity to concentrate on their body and mind through their breath, which can help alleviate tension and stress. The different poses and breathing exercises serve as a tool to regulate emotions and calm the mind, which can strengthen your emotional state throughout the day. Additionally, the practice helps you learn to balance your highs and lows so you are better able to cope with situations as they arise. Yoga can also help you learn how to be more patient and compassionate toward yourself – something that we can all benefit from. Whether you are working on mastering a specific pose, or trying to be more mindful in your practice, yoga helps cultivate self-acceptance and confidence. If you apply that same patience and compassion in other tasks throughout your day you may be better equipped to challenge negative thoughts and feelings.

What are the long-term benefits of yoga on mental health?

Put simply, the long-term benefit of yoga is a higher quality of life. The many tools of yoga, including physical postures, yogic breathing, use of meditation, mantras, and affirmations, help balance the emotional and physical body. This provides individuals with greater awareness so they can better cope with difficult situations and feel more connected to themselves and their surroundings. According to some studies, yoga has also been proven effective at improving your memory and concentration. Yoga encourages participants to find a point of focus and practice concentration, which can help you better recall information and stay attuned to the task at hand.

Can yoga be used to help treat or alleviate symptoms of certain mental health conditions?

While yoga is not used as a primary treatment for mental health disorders, it can help alleviate negative symptoms. Studies have shown that individuals who practice yoga regularly report improvements in perceived stress, depression, anxiety, energy, fatigue, and overall well-being [1]. Yoga has also been shown to help modulate stress response by reducing perceived stress and anxiety [1]. In this respect, yoga can be beneficial alongside other self-soothing techniques, such as meditation and relaxation, to help lower blood pressure and heart rate. Consequently, individuals are better able to cope with feelings of anxiety that manifest in anxiety and mood-related disorders. Additionally, studies show that yogis have better overall sleep quality (especially for those who practice more restorative forms of yoga). Like other forms of exercise, yoga can provide a relief from the stress of everyday life, and because some poses calm the central nervous system, your body can better relax into a good night’s sleep.

How soon can a person notice an improvement in his or her mental health from practicing yoga?

It varies from person to person, but I would say that some people see an improvement almost immediately. The very first time I ever tried yoga, I noticed a difference in my own mood and sleep which is one of the reasons I got hooked. Taking time to dedicate to yourself is beneficial itself, so once you add in some stretching, sweating, and mindfulness – it’s a recipe for success.

How often do you recommend practicing yoga?

As often as you can! The more you practice, the more your body will crave that type of stretching and movement. But you don’t have to practice every day to benefit from it. Just five minutes of sun salutations or stretching in the morning can help get your energy flowing and your blood pumping. The mindfulness/meditation component of yoga is also important to integrate into your everyday if possible. Taking a few minutes to sit in silence and tune into your breath is a simple way to refocus your mind and let go of unhelpful thoughts.

Yoga is a practice of personal growth and self-discovery, and also serves as a lesson in how to be more kind, compassionate, and accepting of one’s self. The integration of the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects make yoga applicable and beneficial to everyone, from all walks of life.

How can I get started?

Urban Balance will be hosting a yoga meditation workshop open to the public on Saturday, April 25 from 1:30 to 3:30 pm. All levels of experience are welcome. This interactive workshop will include the discussion of the benefits of yoga, yoga practice, mindful meditation, and relaxation techniques. For more information, click here.

[1] http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression